Monday, July 31, 2017

That's How You Train a Toddler

Trust Me.

That was the message God gave us. Trust Me.

Anything else, God? 


I mean, God I am trusting you. I took this first step in faith. It wasn't easy. Perhaps you would like to expound further upon what you want me to do, to learn, to experience?

Nope. Just. Trust. Me.

I'm learning that asking to have more faith or trust in God is akin to asking for more patience. There's only one way to get it, and it's going to take time.

So while I am waiting, I have been reading about Moses and the Israelites in the book of Exodus. I knew this would give me both good and bad examples of how to learn to trust in God.

The Bad Example: The Israelites

In Exodus 19, we learn that their trek from Egypt to Mount Sinai had taken 'exactly two months.' Have you ever considered some of the timeline of the Israelites and their transition from Egypt to the Promised Land? Yeah, we're familiar with the fact that it ended up taking 40 years, due to their rebellion, but consider some of their actions in response to what they saw from God.

Exactly two months ago, they experienced the ten plagues. We walk around talking about this being a hot summer or a cold winter and some of us remember things like that from year to year. Had we experienced even one of the plagues, I would think that might be something that would be fresh on our minds for two months, at least.

In that same two month period, the Israelites also experienced the crossing of the Red Sea, the crushing of Pharaoh's army (in that same sea), quail being hand delivered, manna appearing on a daily basis, and (oh yeah) God leading them in a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day.

They complained the entire time and continually questioned whether God was trying to kill them. Don't even get me started on what will happen when Moses leaves them alone for a few moments so he can meet with God. Speaking of Moses...

The Good Example: Moses

I know Moses isn't perfect, but if God was looking for someone who would be patient (most of the time), He found a winner in Moses.

Later in Exodus 19, God calls Moses up the mountain. Anyone who hikes or climbs mountains will tell you Moses doesn't get enough credit for this. We read Moses climbed the mountain as if it was just as quick and simple as pushing for a floor on an elevator. Mount Sinai was over 7,400 feet. This took some time and effort.

When Moses gets to the top, God meets Him and tells him to go back down to remind the Israelites to stay back from the mountain. Because God couldn't have given Moses that message at the base of the mountain?

Moses questions, but ultimately obeys and climbs back down the mountain. A few chapters later, God once again invites Moses to come up the mountain. We read in Exodus 24:15-18 that God covers the mountain in a cloud, which I imagine is the God-equivalent of closing an office door so you can have a private meeting.

But it says God didn't call out to Moses until he had been there seven days! Moses climbs the mountain (again!) and waits an entire week before God starts the meeting. Had this been a phone call, I might have hung up and told myself that they will call back if it's important.

Moses was content to wait on the voice of God.

Training a Toddler

If you parent a toddler, you no doubt find yourself repeating the same things over and over. Because that's what it takes to train a toddler.

Before we started this adventure, I prayed that God would make His will clear, because I wanted to be sure where He was leading us and what He was teaching us. So now when I continue to hear the one message, Trust Me, I guess I can't complain.

Because that's how you train a child.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Open My Eyes

One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. ~Exodus 3:1
I have already acknowledged that it is I who must seek out God, no matter His purpose or His timing. Moses is a great example of this. He may not have intended to seek out God, but he found himself at the mountain of God. And that's when God started to move. God appears in the form of a bush that burned but didn't burn up. This intrigued Moses, and why not? But check out what happens next;
When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” ~Exodus 3:4
Do you see what's happening here? First, one had to go 'far into the wilderness' to get to the mountain of God. Too often we miss this and assume God can be accessed right around the corner. And while God is everywhere, I believe He wants us to make more effort to be where He is. But it's not just that. In verse 4, it appears that God waited to see if Moses would take the bait before calling out to him.

God had a clear mission for Moses. But before Moses would be given any direction, God waited to see if Moses was intrigued. Would Moses be watching? Would he be aware?

I am trying, during this transition between jobs, to learn whatever God wants me to learn, to grow however He wants me to grow. I want to walk clearly into the next season of life, knowing I have met with God. I want to know that the choice I make is the plan God lays out for me. I don't want to questions God's will for my life.

Did you know that while God was leading the Israelites through the desert, in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, the people still questioned His leading? In the midst of God displaying His great miraculous power, the people still questioned.

I have been praying, during my whole search for a next destination, for God to be clear in what and where He wants me next. I should have been praying that my eyes would be open to the God who is already showing Himself to me.

People have often said that if God would just make Himself obvious, they would obey Him. They would trust Him. They would put their hope in Him.

But God has seen evidence in men that that is simply not 100% true. If it wasn't true with people who plainly saw the evidence of a God, what kind of arrogance do I possess to think I would be any different?

So I will continue to journey, 'far into the wilderness', in order to meet with God. I will trust that He is in control of the details. And I will have one heck of a testimony to share on the other side.

Monday, July 17, 2017

On the Job Training

I would like some on-the-job training. This, of course, requires a job, which I don't currently have. It wouldn't even have to be that difficult. Hire me as your youth pastor. Show me the youth room. Introduce me to a few teens. I'll take it from there. 

And if God has some more lessons to teach me, He could certainly feel free to do so. Train me up while I am on the job. This makes sense to me, because then I would be providing for my family once again, our future would be more certain (certainly more than it is right now) and I could be passing along those lessons to any who would listen (or read, like you fine people!).

Why couldn't God do that? Maybe because He isn't as concerned with how my family will be taken care of as I am. Sounds scandalous, right? Did this guy just try to say he cares more than God?, that's not what I am saying. 

What I am saying is that I am more concerned. To be concerned means to worry. It means to have anxiety. So when I say I have more concern, it's not actually bragging. It's admitting weakness.

God has no need for concern because He knows He loves us and will certainly take care of us, as He has for all our days. It's not a concern for God because He doesn't rely on silly things like money to make things happen. I, however, have a limited scope of things and believe jobs must be had in order to have needs taken care of. How silly of me.

Jen and I have considered that we are learning some lessons while we wait out this transition. But I have often wondered if God knows about on the job training. Lots of companies do that, you know.

Then I remember that God does not see me as I see me. I see me as a youth pastor. He sees me as a child. It would be very easy for me to allow my age to cause me to think I am having some sort of midlife crisis. Obviously, I am too young to be mid-life. (I don't even believe that anymore, so I don't expect you to either.)

But it's not a crisis. Certainly not of the mid-life variety. I know what I would like to do. I know who I am, and to Whom I belong.

I'm not the first to go through this kind of transition. I've been reading through Exodus most recently, because Moses is another example of a guy who seemed to know what he was doing, until, of course, he didn't.

As you may know, Moses goes from Prince of Egypt to Top-10 Most Wanted. He finds himself living in another land, perhaps the best educated shepherd in all of history. Here's what we read in Exodus 3:1;
One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God.
It struck me that Moses had to go 'far into the wilderness' in order to come to the mountain of God. God didn't meet Moses in Egypt, where life was comfortable. God didn't meet Moses at his new place in Midian, where Moses had at least gotten comfortable. God met Moses 'far into the wilderness.' 

I would like for this time of transition to be over. I would like to know where God is leading my family. But perhaps I have not gone far enough into the wilderness. And if God isn't concerned, then I don't have cause for concern either. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

During the Transition

In the book of Genesis, we find Jacob leaving the land God promised his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac. Seems kind of an odd thing to do until you realize that Jacob is kind of the sleazeball of this family. Cheating his brother out of blessing and birthright has left Jacob with a sudden need to change zip codes. 

On his way out of town, he builds an altar to God, worships Him there and prays about his return to the Promised Land. Little did he know it would be 20 years before he ever saw this place again. 

Sleazeball though he was, Jacob understood God had a calling on his life. But what if, during the transition, Jacob had sat around and done nothing? What if he decided to simply wait until God handed him the next step? 

By reading several chapters, we can see that he would have missed out on having several kids, several kids which would become the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel, which is what God changed Jacob's name to when he returned to the Promised Land.  

I remain in what you may refer to as a transitional period. I am between jobs. I have no doubt God is working during this time, but I have been silent here for a few weeks, I think, because I was waiting for some grand finale which I could share. 

But I am coming to realize that most of life is transitioning from one point to another and that if I choose to wait, I might skip over many aspects which could be beneficial for others to hear and see. 

The truth is we should never find ourselves waiting for some future event in order to serve God. We should never wait to figure out what we should be doing. 

I thought I wanted to wait until some grand conclusion was reached. But that was expecting a type of fairy tale ending that only happens in the...well....fairy tales. Here in reality, God has given us all gifts and He expects us to use them. Not use them someday. Not use them when some mythical idea of ideal comes our way. 

We were made to serve. That's why one of my family's daily prayers has been for our eyes to be open to whomever and whatever need we might be able to fill that day. 

A friend said we should make ourselves a family of do-gooders and let God take care of us. Well, I'm still going to look for a job, but I think we can do both.